Instead of focusing on a passage of this last chapter, I’d like to share how I apply this novel to my life. Where does it fit into the Big Picture? The most efficient way to describe my view of the Big Picture is through the relationship between "The Matrix", Atlas Shrugged, Mere Christianity, and The Bible. One of the principles uniting these influences is their Aristotelian philosophy.
Matrix – The Matrix demonstrates how a reality greater than the physical world could exist. To anyone who has given serious thought to a reality greater than this matrix, there are several examples. Here are just a few…
1) Physicists and philosophers have acknowledged that time is the fourth dimension. God is clearly outside of time. Our inability to see it suggests there exists at least one more dimension and a greater reality.
2) This matrix is beyond our ability to create it, yet it has tremendous order. If we saw a chair in a field, we would know a man existed. As we learn more, it becomes impossible to believe randomness created this order. One example: I read where a team of researchers has modeled the human knee. There are over 100 structural differences between our knee and our "nearest" evolutionary relative. The amazing thing is that if ANY one of these structural differences doesn’t exist, the knee doesn’t work. All 100+ had to occur at once.
3) We know this matrix isn’t completely fair. The Old Testament thinkers identified the inequities of this universe in the absence of an afterlife, that is, the opportunity to square all accounts. Ayn figured this out at the end of her time on earth. This novel tries to present a scenario where justice is settled in this matrix, consequently there is no need for God or a greater reality. However, she realized that justice ISN’T settled in this matrix, so there MUST be a greater reality where it is settled.
4) To paraphrase a former President, the meaning of "IS". In math (and logic) it means "equals". Webster’s says "of BE". The meaning of "BE" – to exist; live. How can "intangible" qualities exist, live, or equal anything? To be equal, they must be measurable. To live, they must create and grow. Why do we speak of intangible qualities this way? We get our language from God. Intangible things in our matrix are tangible in God’s. One of Ms. Rand’s friends said she spoke of personal attributes (e.g., character) as if she were speaking about a table or a chair. Could it be that we will be able to tangibly quantify our intelligence, love, character, prudence, charity, etc. when we attain the greater reality? To put this in terms of the movie, when Neo frees up people in the sequels, there should have been "matrix-beautiful" people who have done corrupt things and are diseased or deformed in reality. Also, if God exists in the ultimate reality then words are ultimately tangible. How did God create the universe? By speaking it into existence. We speak the way we think. We think with words...
Atlas Shrugged – This novel explains the principles of our current matrix completely. It is the computer program running this Matrix. It does not deal with the greater reality. If Ayn had written another novel she might have taken the Law of Causality to its logical extremes. First realizing that there must be a primary cause to everything…which proves the existence of God. Secondly, realizing that the rewarding of all effects would require a greater reality. If she moved the Valley outside of this matrix and settled Justice outside this matrix, she would match up completely with the Bible.
Mere Christianity – This book is the bridge to explain the greater reality. A cube (3 dimensions) is made up of six squares (2 dimensions). The third dimension does not lose its connection with the second dimension, it is made up of second dimension components. Likewise, Mere Christianity stays connected with Atlas Shrugged while creating depth with the goal of attaining the Big Picture.
Bible – It is the ultimate explanation of the Big Picture and therefore the greater reality. AS was hard to comprehend at first. The Bible is an order of magnitude more difficult to understand because it deals in EFFECT. AS shows that truth is objective and can be determined by removing contradictions. If the individual chooses to think, they will determine the non-contradictory CAUSES that result in the EFFECTS explained in the Bible. This is not easy and requires a conscious choice by the individual. This task causes people to either come up with an excuse of why they can evade the knowledge ("Everyone sees something different") or it makes them take responsibility for their own reality and think. There are three topics that take a lot of studying to understand, they are:
1) Heaven – The Bible states that we will be the same person in Heaven as we are now. Judgment will be objective. I don’t believe people will be able to talk their way into anything. In fact, I think we will appear with our real body and walk through a "fire". Those things that are imperfect will be burned away. Those things that are good will be refined. From there, we will continue to grow and need teachers, pastors, etc. until we all act "like one man". Our role in Heaven is to perform that task as part of the body according to our unique ability. This unique ability is the source of your individual happiness.
The people who don’t survive the "fire" can’t survive in Heaven with what they have left. In fact, there’s been a debate in scientific circles for more than 30 years that according to the Bible, Heaven is actually hotter than hell. The temperature of hell is equal to liquid sulfur, while the temperature of Heaven is equal to a specific multiple of the current Sun’s intensity from Earth. Temperature is directly correlated to energy and the positive side of the scale definitely has more energy, so we’d expect Heaven to be hotter. Heaven would be worse than Hell for people who are going to Hell.
2) Purpose – If we were designed with a unique ability, then our first goal in this matrix is to identify it. What stops us from doing this? Distractions. First of all, you have to believe there is a greater reality (spiritual). This matrix tries to stop this by convincing you it’s the greater reality (physical). Sickness, debt, loneliness, etc. are all there to distract you through guilt, pain and fear. The physical is constantly trying to be emphasized over the spiritual. Evil is flawed. Evil CANNOT exist without good, yet good CAN exist without evil. Once a person realizes that this matrix is fleeting compared to eternity, it is easier to overcome the second obstacle: jealousy. Being told they are supposed to want the same things as everybody else distracts people: money, fame, perfect spouse, beauty…we are individuals. We were created for different purposes. Different things make each of us truly happy (profitable).
In reality, we are tools. A tool makes you more profitable. If you buy a hammer for $10, you expect it to make you more profitable than $10. For instance, you can pound nails in a board and make an object you couldn’t without the hammer. Who created the profitable object? Was it you or the hammer? It was you; the hammer just made the job easier. In the same way, God is creating through us and we make His job easier. The big difference is that God gave us the option of not being used in the way He meant. (Remember, He is Righteous and Just.) He may have made me to be a circular saw. However, I may want to be a hammer. No matter how much I try to act like a hammer, I won’t be profitable (truly happy).
3) Growth – God needs each of us to continually become more profitable. Going back to the circular saw analogy, He may add a bigger blade to me. He may rewire me to produce more power. These steps are painful but they lead to growth. However, the more I resist, the more painful the experience. Perhaps God’s resistance causes us to push back harder and therefore try to grow. Once the resistance is pulled away, we experience exponential growth from momentum. Another way to look at is through justice. We can’t get a benefit without paying for it. When God puts a barrier in our path and we overcome it, we have earned the benefit. I believe growth is going to continue in Heaven a lot like it did in Galt’s Gulch. In Heaven, over time I will stop stressing others out and become better at my job… which will allow others to focus more on their job…which will result in them stressing me out less…. However these habits all begin in this matrix.
Bottomline - People who focus on growth by making a conscious moral effort to improve their understanding of their gift and their responsibilities will see progress. Progress comes from acquiring and retaining truth. This is done with purpose and motion, that is, identifying a goal (or belief) and moving towards it (actively refining the belief). In order to have the energy to make this change, the individual must determine the activities that bring them joy, that is, the activities that give them energy. To do nothing, ignore truth, evade the knowledge, and try to stay in the middle is evil…but everybody is ultimately responsible for himself or herself. Live and let live.
The premise of this novel is that it is immoral for someone to use a skill they have to help a needy person which the person in need demonizes. The goal is growth. The needy person will never grow and develop the necessary skill if they demonize people who have it AND are helped by the people who have it. The helpers need to serve the needy by teaching the skill. If the needy don’t want to grow and learn the skill, then the only moral thing for the helper to do is stop helping the needy person. This is the only way the needy person will grow in the Long Term. Ayn has written that the plot-theme of Atlas Shrugged is: "The men of the mind going on strike against an altruist-collective society." Looking back, Dagny and Hank were completely immoral until the end of the book. They were the problem. People who think Dagny and Hank were the heroes (the solution) have completely misunderstood the premise of this book.
"People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other." (CSL-MC)
"I imagine somebody will say, ‘Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?’ All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate or enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s back, must simply be killed. Even when we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves – to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not." (CSL-MC)
"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons – marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken a wrong turning." (CSL-MC)
"You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up." (Morpheus, The Matrix)
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (Bible)
"What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." (Morpheus, The Matrix)
"Where the search for the truth is conducted with a wink and nod/ And where power and position are equated with the grace of God/ These times are famine for the soul while for the senses it’s a feast/ From the edge of my country, as far as you see, looking east." (Jackson Browne)
"Most of us find it very difficult to want ‘Heaven’ at all – except in so far as "Heaven" means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings that arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean.
The Christian Way (to deal with this) – The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing." (CSL-MC)
"Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon. Then you’ll see it is not the spoon that bends it is only yourself." (Candidate, The Matrix)
"Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Bible)
"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body." (Bible)
"When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along – illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation – he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us." (CSL-MC)
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints…till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Bible)
"Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." (Bible)
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." (Bible)
"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." (Bible)
"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more." (Morpheus, The Matrix)